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If you gave the title one quick glance and said nuh-uh, this is precisely why you may be undervaluing those newly promoted in your organization. A leader’s role is not to be the smartest person in the room, of course, but how do we discount the history, experience, vision, and exposure of those who’ve been around the longest? We don’t. We simply look at these elements from a different angle. In today’s Monday Moment, what follows may surprise you and certainly those newbies you’ve hired.
While being the leader with the longest tenure certainly has its benefits, it also provides a bias. The long-term leader has answered all the questions and knows the answers to questions that even sound similar, even if they’re different. The long-term leader has stopped asking questions because he knows this is how we’ve always done it around here. The long-term leader or sales manager has already negotiated the best pricing with vendors and has stopped checking for new methods or new vendors because let’s face it, going with what you know is far easier. Then, in walks this new leader with a whole new set of contacts from their own history. She has different vendor relationships. She has different apps she uses that seem easier. She has no idea how things have always been done around here and as a result she is able to share a whole new set of ideas from her own history, that makes her seem ingenious to those who hired her.
You know that stack of stuff in the garage that three years ago you had on your list to organize or remove? It left your list longer ago than you remember and it hasn’t returned as a priority because you no longer see it. Other needs have cropped up. Other fire drills have required your attention. There are a plethora of actions, people, items, and projects that left your list in your company or department and has you’ve kept your eye on other balls, you’ve stopped seeing what’s right in front of you. The new leader walks in and the first question out of his mouth is what did you want to do with this pile in the garage? Ha! Unlike the long-term leader, the new leader shines a spot light on what you no longer see. The long-term leader grows used to how things run and how things are fairly quickly, especially in an environment that is fast paced or constantly changing. The new leader has sharp vision but make use of it quickly. He’ll only see what is stacked up or left behind for a fleeting period of time before for him, too, it becomes simply a part of the every day environment.
While at Contagious Companies, we specialize in working with managers who have been promoted, but not prepared, this is not always an accurate description of a leader newly promoted. If from outside the organization, a new leader may bring a wealth of experience in how to handle the person you’ve called difficult for years, but felt ill equipped to handle. The new leader may bring experience in your industry, but from another company, that you had to learn over the last decade. The new leader may see events through an entirely different filter than your experience permits. This gives them a unique vantage point and additionally creative problem solving. Work with them and their experience and let’s face it, even those promoted, but not prepared, have life experiences that will differ from yours and cause them to approach each issue in ways that could be radically different.
Their history is shorter than yours and could be from a different industry. This doesn’t make a new leader a threat, it makes their fresh approach an asset. Their vision is clearer than yours. Use it to see the elements that you’ve long ago ceased to notice. Their experience is different and could seem to pose a concern, but consider it a benefit and consult with them on possible best practices. The new leader will easily appear smarter for a period of time, but that window of opportunity is one that could work much to your benefit. Treat the new leader like a paid expert consultant for their first month and watch how many action items could get accomplished now that you have an extra hand on deck to see, work-on, and finish them, who then sticks around to work with you on the new ones.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121.